Cast Iron

Southwest Quinoa Salad, by Way of the Pantry

July  6, 2013
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Loosely adapted from Gourmet Today. Feel free to adapt even more loosely. It's that sort of salad. —Nicholas Day

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa
  • 1 cup corn (or two ears of corn, with the kernels sliced off)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans, cooked
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup feta, crumbled
  • 3 green onions, sliced (the whites and the greens)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  1. Bring three cups of salted water to boil in a large saucepan. While it warms, rinse the quinoa well under cold water. When the water boils, add the quinoa and stir. Cover the pot, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 15 minutes -- the quinoa should still have a slight bite. (You want it well before mushy.) Then drain it well and add to a large salad bowl.
  2. While the quinoa cooks, heat a cast-iron skillet or wok on high, without adding oil. When the pan is hot, toss in the corn, stirring occasionally, until the kernels are singed. It should take at least five minutes, possibly as much as ten. When they are almost done, add the cumin seeds to the skillet and toast briefly. Then add both to the large salad bowl.
  3. To the same salad bowl, add the halved cherry tomatoes, the cooked beans (drained and rinsed, if using canned), the feta, the sliced green onions, and the smoked paprika.
  4. Roast the poblano peppers until blackened. (I use the open flame on the stove.) Let cool, then peel, seed, and chop roughly. Add these to the bowl too.
  5. Toss the salad together and add salt to taste. Then whisk together the oil, lime juice, and orange juice. Toss the salad with the dressing. Taste. You may want more oil or more lime juice. Adjust as desired. Taste again. Serve.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sarah Greenblatt
    Sarah Greenblatt
  • Taylor Stanton
    Taylor Stanton
  • susan
  • Cheryl
  • urbancooknyc
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

22 Reviews

Sarah G. June 22, 2019
Jes A. September 4, 2017
This is the perfect base for almost anything.
We ate it as is and then over the weekend we had a chicken skewers left over and we just threw it in with this. Great with BBQ sauce or without. This will be added to my, "I don't know what to make and I am lazy, but want to be healthy" list, which is the only list I have!
Taylor S. August 22, 2017
This is awesome! I made a bunch of modifications based on what I had in my fridge. Omitted the black beans, tomatoes, scallions and subbed cumin powder for the seeds. I added in quickly sautéed red and white onion (cooked in the remnants of cumin) and diced yellow bell pepper for some crunch. Fantastic! Can't wait to make this again after I eat it all :)
susan July 1, 2017
This was delicious, and would have been even better with a great quality feta. I'll be making this again.
Cheryl January 22, 2017
This was good--and is a beginning for other additions. I cooked quinoa in homemade vegetable broth. Added chili powder (great), avocado and jicama as someone suggested--next time include black olives. Reduced smoked paprika to 1/8 tsp and that was enough for me. Next time I would sub red peppers (raw or roasted) for the poblanos (not enough flavor) and maybe minced jalapenos. I question the orange juice; I think a vinaigrette would be best and could be made with lime juice.
Cheryl January 22, 2017
And as i am eating vegan, I subbed a firm-ish cashew cream for the feta, using little blobs of it.
Cheryl July 28, 2020
And cilantro! Using about 2 cups black beans.
Lily A. July 14, 2014
How long will this keep? It serves 4 which is the right amount for me to bring into work for lunch for a week but will obviously need to keep for 4 days
urbancooknyc July 4, 2014
Delicious! Made a smoked paprika dressing instead, and cooked the beans with smoked dried peppers. Both added to the smokiness, which is what I was going for. A bit time consuming, unless quinoa and beans are already cooked and on hand.
JNielsen August 16, 2013
This looks fantastic! Can't wait to try it!
Geni August 11, 2013
Used the quinoa that I had on hand and adjusted the recipe down a bit, but will try bulgur next time. It was quite good-even better the next day! Roasting the peppers over the open flame on the stove was more time consuming that I ever imagined so I'll either do that ahead of time or skip it altogether. Will up the heat and I think the addition of jicama sounds great. Will add cilantro to part of it next time (my part; himself hates it!). Thanks for a very flexible, healthy recipe!
Nela August 11, 2013
This was fabulous! Making it again for a summer dinner party.
Geni July 31, 2013
Don't have enough quinoa......would bulgur work?
kimmiebeck July 26, 2013
I added cilantro and served it over chopped romaine with grilled chicken. Delicious!
Genny July 23, 2013
This sounds delicious. Can't wit to try it.
LoisonMaui July 23, 2013
I made this yesterday for a group of us having a full moon evening picnic at Kapalua Bay. Got good reviews. I'd make again but it wasn't spicy enough for me. Next time I'm going to use New Mexico Big Jim peppers. Even the smoked paprika didn't spice it enough for us. Lovely salad. I did make soaked over-night beans. Wonderful recipe.
Beth B. July 23, 2013
I used queso blanco and added cilantro, both of which were excellent. Next time -- jicama!
cookinalong July 23, 2013
This was a big hit around here! And in keeping with my "I'm not turning on the oven until after Labor Day" pledge, I made everything in my pressure cooker! Took about 40 minutes, including cooking the black beans! Thanks for a great recipe. Now that the temperature has dropped below incinerate in NY, my appetite is back. Mixed blessing...
diaday July 22, 2013
I love making clean-out-the-pantry meals...kind of like playing "Chopped" in your own kitchen!
Coffeecat July 22, 2013
This is delicious - made it tonight and nearly forgot about the roast chicken it was intended to accompany. Just two notes to add - it takes longer to make than is at fist apparent if the ingredients aren't well organized ahead of time (it helps to do the poblano s first so they are ready, and to fix the tomatoes before starting the quinoa) and I thought it best after it cooled a bit. Served right after assembling it's pretty warm from the quinoa. I liked it more as the evening wore on, and the quantity dwindled. Great flavors!
johnsofats July 21, 2013
Doesn't one usually boil the water with the quinoa already added?
Donna L. July 21, 2013
To keep this in the southwest spirit and living in the southwest we would probably use queso fresco in lieu of the feta, but sounds great I will be trying this soon.